Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara
Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, Inc. is dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and preserving Santa Barbara’s history, spirit, culture, heritage, and traditions.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta began in 1924 to fulfill the desire of residents to preserve history and culture, as well as to accomplish economic goals of the community though increasing tourism in Santa Barbara. More than 92 years later, there are 19 official Old Spanish Days events and activities in 14 venues community-wide: including the largest equestrian parade, El Desfile Historico; the open air markets of Mercado De La Guerra and Mercado del Norte, where people can talk, dance and eat; free entertainment at La Fiesta Pequena, Noches de Ronda and Tardes de Ronda; the celebrations of La Primavera, Fiesta Ranchera, El Recepcion del Presidente and Celebración de los Dignatarios; as well as the of the Fiesta Stock Horse Show and Rodeo, which showcases nationally known Rodeo stars as well as local talent. In addition, Old Spanish Days Fiesta has several children’s programs, such as the Spirit of Fiesta and Junior Spirit competition, and the Fiesta Flower Girls.
Fiesta is unique among festivals in that it is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Board of Directors annually selects a Presidente who not only presides over the Board, but also serves as an ambassador of goodwill to residents and visitors alike. The 35 Directors, 20 Associates, and Past Presidentes represent a broad cross-section of the community.
The annual event provides an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the history, customs, and traditions that comprise the rich cultural heritage of Santa Barbara. By attracting visitors from both nearby and around the world, Fiesta has a positive economic influence on local businesses, organizations, and the community as a whole. Fiesta also provides a vehicle for non-profit and community service groups to raise significant funds at the two outdoor Mercados, as well as the collaborative events with fellow non-profit organizations.
Fiesta is a beloved tradition that fosters a unique spirit among locals as an important coming together which encourages community cooperation, celebration, and growth. The festival has grown due to the overwhelming interest of many different organizations to develop and maintain it as an extension and expression of their place in the community. Accordingly, Old Spanish Days Fiesta has grown in stature and reputation to become one of the top regional festivals in the United States.